Process: Scheduling an in-person meeting

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QUICK REFERENCE:

  • Location: Yelp: 3.5 or more stars, $-$$, noise level: average or quiet, accepts credit cards, wifi: free (if possible), accepts reservations if possible. (Make reservations under “Sacha Chua”)
  • Please create “Travel” appointments 1h before and 2h after lunches and 1h before / 1h after coffee.
  • Make sure calendar entries have location and backup contact info.
  • Cc: me on all correspondence. If you need action/input from me, add Sacha: <message> near the top of the e-mail.
DETAILS

Scheduling stresses me out. I’ve had several calendar hiccups before: wrong dates, ambiguous locations, no contact information (or incorrect ones!), and so on. I want to fix that so that I can get better at meeting people and following up.

What would success look like? I think it would be awesome to get to the point where I can easily set lunches, coffees, and calls with people. This is how that process might look like:

  1. I bump into people in person or get an email from them. If I meet them in person, I scan in or take a picture of their business card and add it to my file.
  2. I introduce my assistant through e-mail and ask him/her to schedule lunch/coffee/a call. I use an e-mail template on my computer or a snippet on my phone to make sure that I include all the information necessary. My assistant also refers to a note with my preferences and processes.
  3. My assistant contacts the person and negotiates schedule / location usinghttp://scheduleonce.com or manual scheduling through e-mail, following up in case people don’t respond. If possible, we’ll suggest a venue with good WiFi near the person’s office or location. He or she would create a calendar entry for the meeting as well as travel/preparation time around it.
  4. We have a task board where I could see where people are in the process, so I can be sure that nothing slips through the cracks. My assistant updates it, and we review it periodically.

It’s important to me that the process doesn’t make people feel like I’m standoffish or self-important. I also want to make sure that we don’t drop the ball even if I change assistants or take tasks back, so I want to use something like Trello to track scheduling status.

PROCESS

STEP 1. Find a time that works for people.

In Toronto? Offer lunch or coffee/tea, my treat. I prefer 60 minutes for lunch or coffee/tea, and 30 minutes for a phone call. I’ll take 30 minutes for coffee/tea if needed.
Days: I prefer to meet on Monday or Friday, usually afternoons. I have consulting from Tue-Thu in January/February and I prefer to not have any interruptions then. I  can take appointments from Mon-Fri after February. Ask me before offering mornings or anything that conflicts with something else on my calendar.
Buffer time: Around lunch appointments, I prefer to have at least 1 hour free before lunch and 2 hours free after (-1h/+2h). For coffee, I prefer to have 1 hour free before and 1 hour free after (-1h/+1h). Please create “Travel” appointments blocking off the time once the time is confirmed.
Suggest three times on different dates. In the same email, ask them to check http://meetme.so/sachac for other times if the times don’t work. If meeting them in person, ask them where they’ll be on that day.

Check my address book to see if I have a cellphone number for them. If not, ask them for a cellphone number I can reach them at just in case something comes up, and add that to their address book entry. You can use http://connectedhq.com to update contacts in my address book.

Negotiate time if needed. If they respond by email, check that the times still work with my schedule, create calendar entries, and invite them.

STEP 2: SUGGEST A LOCATION

If they suggest a place, go with their suggestion.

If they don’t suggest a specific place, just a neighbourhood or intersection, use yelp.ca and suggest something (or see my preferences below). Criteria for Yelp: 3.5 or more stars, $-$$, noise level: average or quiet, accepts credit cards, wifi: free (if possible), accepts reservations if possible. If the place accepts reservations, please use freephoneline.ca to reserve – pick a different place if you can’t get a reservation on that date.

If they don’t suggest a location, or they want us to suggest:

Coffee:

  • Monday: Near High Park – Red Bean Espresso
  • Friday: Near High Park – Cafe Novo (7am-7pm)
  • Near Yonge and Bloor: Crema (53 Bloor Street East, 7am-8pm)
  • Downtown: Cafe Crêpe

Lunch:

  • Kensington Market or downtown: Pho Hung, Urban Herbivore
  • Downtown: Arepa Cafe

STEP 3: CREATE CALENDAR ENTRY, OR UPDATE IT IF SCHEDULEONCE HAS CREATED ONE (I’ll forward you the e-mails)

Add to Google Calendar: Sacha / Main
Title: Person’s name – Sacha Chua: Discuss <topic>
Location: Name of restaurant, address
Attendees: invite them
Description:
Sacha Chua’s cellphone: 416-823-2669
Link to Yelp page for restaurant
<agenda or body of email>

(Happy to reschedule or move – introduce me to your favourite place!)


If the place accepts reservations, please call and make them under the name “Sacha Chua”, and add a note to the calendar entry.

STEP 4. FOLLOW UP

Check the calendar entry two business days before the event. Follow up with email confirming the date and time, asking them to edit the calendar entry or email me at [email protected] if they need to reschedule.

TEMPLATES

Sample e-mail introducing the assistant and asking her to set things up

Hello, John!

I’d love to meet with you for lunch to discuss sketchnoting – my treat. Criselda (cc’d here) will be helping us set up something that works with your schedule. Criselda: Could you please organize lunch for maybe the second week of December? Thank you!

Sacha Chua

Sample e-mail from assistant

Hello, John!

I’m Criselda, and I’m looking forward to helping you and Sacha get together for a great conversation about sketchnotes. For lunch, would either Dec 10 (Mon), Dec 11 (Tue), or Dec 13 (Thu) work for you? 12pm usually works, but she’s happy to meet earlier or later if needed. Alternatively, if none of those dates work for you, you can check her availability at http://meetme.so/sachac or send me a few dates and times that fit your schedule.

Also, where will you be at that time? If you’ll be near your office at 123 Anywhere Street, I can find a restaurant nearby. If you’ll be elsewhere, tell me and I’ll look for somewhere close – anywhere near the subway line would be fantastic. Got a favourite? We’d love to find out about it!

What phone number would be the best to reach you at in case something comes up?

Best regards,
Criselda Hernandez

Sample calendar entry

Subject: Lunch: John / Sacha – sketchnotes
Attendees: [email protected]
Location: Restaurant Name (123 Restaurant Address St., Toronto)
Sacha’s phone: 416-823-2669
Your phone: 123-456-7890
Restaurant website: http://www.example.com
On Yelp: http://www.example.com

To reschedule, please contact Criselda at ______ . Need to reschedule on the day of the event? Please call Sacha.

<agenda / notes from e-mail>

Sample confirmation

Hello, John!

This is Criselda again. I’ve set up the calendar invitation for your meeting with Sacha for 12pm on Dec 13 at Restaurant Name. Please tell me if you’re having problems adding it to your calendar. If you need to reschedule, please feel free to get in touch with me. You can check http://meetme.so/sachac for Sacha’s updated availability. If you’re rescheduling on the same day, please call Sacha at 416-823-2669. Thank you, and I hope you have a great conversation!

Criselda Hernandez

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